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Does Mitt Romney Really Want to Eradicate Unions? Teamsters Head Is Spreading That Idea


"What it is is the far radicalization of the Republican Party now is saying that there shouldn't be unions."

Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa apparently thinks Mitt Romney wants to completely eradicate unions; that is, if Hoffa's segment on Current TV with former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is any guide.

Hoffa explicitly makes the accusation that Romney wants to destroy unions roughly a minute and a half into the interview.

"What it is is the far radicalization of the Republican Party, [which is] now is saying that there shouldn't be unions," Hoffa says. "That the rich should get richer, and that we should start working on cutting what we accept as, you know, unemployment benefits, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

It's a clever rhetorical trick. Unfortunately for Hoffa, it isn't true, and his evidence doesn't back it up. This is partially because his evidence is thin, at best, and what little he has, he misquotes. For instance, Hoffa accuses Romney of wanting a national right-to-work bill, and says Romney's own website backs that up.

Actually, Romney's site only calls for the Federal government to "support states in pursuing right-to-work laws," an effectively meaningless phrase with nowhere near the content of an actual bill demanding that every state become right-to-work.

Moreover, even if Romney's site did call for the Federal government impose right-to-work policies from above, this still wouldn't equal out to supporting the complete destruction of unions. True, right-to-work laws tend to reduce union membership in states where it's tried, but it doesn't reduce membership to zero. Unions still exist in right-to-work states, and in large numbers. For instance, fully ten percent of workers are still unionized in Alabama, a right-to-work state, as of 2011. This is just 1.8 percentage points lower than the national average of union membership, which is 11.8 percent of the workforce. A 2 percentage point cut is hardly an attempt to destroy unions altogether.

However, one supposes that Mr. Hoffa isn't about to let that get in the way of a good talking point.

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